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>> Veteran US diplomat Bill Richardson quit a crisis panel set up by Myanmar to advise on the Rohingya exodus on Thursday. In an exclusive interview with Reuters, the former UN ambassador to the US called the panel a quote, whitewash and cheerleading operation for the government. Richardson saying he argued with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a meeting Monday after he brought up the case of two Reuters reporters on trial accused of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act.
He calls Suu Kyi's response furious, saying the case of the reporters was quote, not part of the work on the advisory board. Richardson quit as the ten member board made its first visit to the western Rakhine state from where nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled an army crackdown on insurgence since August last year.
Suu Kyi spokesman told Reuters, we feel sorry for his resignation due to the misunderstanding. The two Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo covered the Rohingya crises in the Rakhine. They were detained in December after being invited to meet police officers for dinner in Yangon. The government has cited police saying they were arrested for possessing secret documents relating to security in the Rakhine.
The United States, Britain and Canada have lobbied for their release, along with the United Nations. If convicted, the two face up to 14 years in prison. Richardson also slammed the board itself saying its chairman was not committed to the task of putting recommendations on issues of Rohingya peace and safety into action.
Rohingya witnesses and right's activists accuse Myanmar's armed forces of killing, rape and arson. In a campaign, the UN and the United States have called ethnic cleansing. Myanmar rejects that label and has denied nearly all the allegations.